Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan

Regional & Urban Design Award Submission

The Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan is a comprehensive vision for helping the City of Chicago reach its carbon reduction goals in the downtown Loop. Working with city officials over much of 2009, the project team developed a database (including energy use, size, age, use, and estimated carbon footprint) of more than 450 buildings in the Loop. The team used it to develop the DeCarbonization Plan, which interweaves energy engineering, architecture and urban design. It lays out a methodology for meeting the goals of the Chicago Climate Action Plan (a 25% reduction in carbon emissions below 1990 levels by 2020) and the 2030 Challenge (a 100% reduction in carbon emissions for new and renovated buildings by 2030). To reach these goals, the plan articulates eight key strategies. The first, “Buildings,” investigates how existing structures can be upgraded to improve energy efficiency, increase the value of aging building stock and tap into the potential to transfer excess energy loads back to the grid. “Urban Matrix” envisions increasing the residential density of the Loop by enhancing amenities, adding schools and services and converting aging office buildings to residential. The other strategies include “Smart Infrastructure,” “Mobility,” “Water,” “Waste,” “Community Engagement” and “Energy."

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
City of Chicago Department of the Environment
Chicago, Illinois